CEOP

Maija Palmer

Facebook logoWhen Joe Sullivan, Facebook’s chief security officer, and Elliot Schrage, the company’s head of public policy,  flew to Washington DC on Monday for a grueling four-hour “showdown” meeting with a senior UK child protection official, the company wanted to send a strong signal that it was ready to listen and act on local concerns.

Facebook is desperate to draw a line under an escalating controversy in the UK over child safety. Always a target for scare stories over everything from spreading venereal disease to teenage depression, Facebook has recently come under scrutiny following the conviction of Peter Chapman, a serial rapist who used Facebook to meet a 17-year-old girl, who he went on to rape and murder. 

Tim Bradshaw

It’s been a tough seven days for Facebook in the UK. Last week the social network was splashed on the front page of most newspapers after “Facebook killer” Peter Chapman murdered a 17-year-old girl he met through the site.

The Daily Mail in particular went to town on the story, even risking legal action with a piece by an “expert” claiming that within 90 seconds of logging into Facebook, “a middle-aged man wanted to perform a sex act in front of me”. The Mail had to apologise when it emerged the site in question wasn’t Facebook after all but a (still-unnamed) “different social networking website”.

It didn’t take long for politicians to jump on the bandwagon in this election year.